America’s cannabis legalization movement shows no signs of slowing. Vermont and New Jersey are set to legalize cannabis for adults this year despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ best efforts. At the beginning of the month, Sessions made headlines by rescinding federal cannabis protections. Colloquially known as the Cole Memo, it was set up to keep recreational cannabis industries culpable for black market activities involving legal cannabis products.
Sessions didn’t command federal prosecutors to go after cannabis, but he did remove any restrictions if they choose to do so themselves. Chills traveled down the collective cannabis industries spine, wondering if a bustling billion dollar experiment was about to come to an end. Especially after California opened America’s largest recreational cannabis industry.
It didn’t take long for Washington and Colorado lawmakers like Cory Gardner, Jay Inslee, and Bob Ferguson to defend their states cannabis laws and encouraged the industry to resist as they’re resisting and continue business as usual. Sen. Gardner is blocking all Justice Department nominees until the protections are restored. Not only has the industry continued with business as usual, other states are getting into the cannabis business.
“I believe what happened today was a trampling of Colorado’s rights, it’s voters; and sure this was a heavily debated issue (issue being cannabis legalization,) something I’ve already said I’d opposed, but the people of Colorado spoke. They spoke loudly and I believe if the same question was asked today they’d have more support for the decison they made several years ago.” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Vermont is the first state to legalize cannabis through legislation, rather than leaving it up to voters. The bill was passed by the Vermont legislature last week and Gov. Phil Scott is expecting to sign into law. This would allow adults 21 and over to grow and possess small amounts of cannabis. There’s no talk of a regulated recreational industry at this time, but Vermont senators hope this is a step in that direction.
New Jersey is set to be the second state to legalize weed through the legislature after the inauguration of Gov. Phil Murray. Called the “anti-Chris Christie,” Murray campaigned on promises to make cannabis legal and it doesn’t look like he’s wasting anytime keeping them. This bill could be signed as early as late January and will allow adults to possess and grow small amounts of cannabis. The bill includes scaffolding for the potential recreational sale of cannabis starting in 2018.
When it’s all said and done, Sessions might be remembered as an unlikely ALLY in the quest for full cannabis legalization. Little does he know, he’s galvanizing people to unite over not just cannabis, but the issue of states rights and constitutions. State lawmakers would rather listen to the 60 percent of citizens who live in cannabis safe states; rather than help an old man impose his destructively dated moral code.